By: Tim Merrell Health Promotion Program Manager
How do you live healthy for your heart? Although this is an open-ended question, many would say heart health starts with healthy living. No matter what your current health level, there are three things that a person can start doing right now that will improve their health: eat right, sleep right, and get enough exercise. You know them, but do you practice them? Here are some things you should consider:
Your body, especially your brain and heart, are always on. Even when you sleep, (which we will discuss in a moment) your body is processing data, making adjustment to prepare for the day. The food or fuel we put into this biological machine can drastically affect how it operates from day to day. Diets high in refined sugars, for example, are harmful to the brain. In addition to worsening your body’s regulation of insulin, they also promote inflammation and oxidative stress. Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders, such as depression. Eating dessert may give you a boost of bad sugar but you aren’t just satisfying your temporary craving, you are also raising insulin and releasing inflammatory responses in your brain and body. There are healthy options out there to select for a treat. What you select to put in your body is up to you but if you want optimum health, choose nutritionally dense foods. For more information on proper nutrition, go to the Human Performance Resource Centerfor some great articles on how to improve your nutrition and eating habits.
One of the most important yet neglected aspects of our lives is sleep. Nobody can dispute the feeling you have when trying to get through the day with not enough sleep. In fact, after you’re awake for 18–20 hours, your performance will be as if you had a blood-alcohol content of 0.1%. This is critical if your task requires any eye hand coordination, reaction time, or deductive thinking. Sleep helps your body repair itself and has consequences for your health both short and long term. Adults who sleep less than 7 hours each night are more likely to have health problems, including high blood pressure, asthma, and depression. Some of these health problems raise the risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
For more information on sleep go to the Human Performance Resource Center for information on how to improve your sleep, https://www.hprc-online.org/mental-fitness/sleep-stress
Get Enough Exercise
Exercise is key to improving physical fitness attributes such as strengthand cardiorespiratory endurance. Proper exercise has also been known to reduce of high blood pressure, cholesterol, stress and depression. Providing the opportunity to engage in physical activity has also been linked to an increase in morale.
The Health Promotion Program Manual COMDTINST M6200.1requires all active duty and select reserves to develop Personal Fitness Plans (Form CG-6049) in the months of April and October to be sent to their supervisors. Active duty and reserve members must also engage in fitness activity at a minimum of 180 minutes per week, ideally aiming at 150 minutes of cardiorespiratory activity and 30 minutes of strength training. Civilian employees, with their supervisors’ approval, may be excused for up to 180 minutes each week for physical fitness activities.
Moderate intensity activities include fast walking, biking, or swimming. Vigorous intensity include running or jogging, fast biking, or High-intensity interval training. Even if you cannot get a full workout in, moving around once an hour can be beneficial.
No matter your current health level, by eating better, getting plenty of sleep, and getting enough exercise, you will discover you feel happier and can accomplish more. Your brain and heart will be healthier.
To launch your new health crusade, review: Get into fighting weight: A Total Force Fitness Guideand utilize the fitness coaching available through CG SUPRTby contacting them at: 1-855-247-8778.
To learn more about various health topics visit: National Institutes for Health: Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.